San Jacinto Unified School District’s traditional high school is about to be anything but traditional when it comes to teaching students about cooking! San Jacinto High School’s Culinary Arts program received a three-year Career Technical Education (CTE) incentive grant by California Department of Education to significantly upgrade the learning environment. The proposed changes to a classroom, and creation of a culinary lab and a café for sales to teachers were recently previewed by staff and guests by means of a virtual reality demonstration.
“Our design team, HMC Architects from Ontario, California, brought in their equipment and headsets, and helped us virtually walk through the planned teaching and learning spaces,” said Dr. Vince Record, SJUSD’s Director of Career and College Readiness. “We used state-of-the-art tools to review our newest education surroundings to equip students in and for the 21st century,” said Dr. Record. “It isn’t ‘Home Ec’ anymore!” he noted.
The district will receive a total of $1.2 million over the grant period, and will begin construction as soon as this upcoming winter break. “It was very easy for me to experience the height of the proposed counters and work spaces with the virtual reality gear, and even see that we’ve planned out the equipment storage areas just right – all before we started drilling holes in the floor!” said Debra Ward, Culinary Arts Teacher. Mrs. Ward has been teaching in the district for six years, and has really expanded the program to include catering for school events and other community programs over the past three years.
The San Jacinto High School CTE-Perkins Advisory Committee, led by Dr. Record consisting of SJHS staff, CTE teachers, and community business partners, has been very active with expanding programs and making improvements to ensure graduates are ready for the community’s work force or add additional education in a career path of their choice. Chef William Ramsey of the Maze Stone Restaurant at The Country Club of Soboba Springs, is an advisory committee member and very excited to share his knowledge with SJHS culinary students.
“The virtual reality tour of the new facilities was terrific,” said Chef Ramsey. “I was able to share with the architects some design features that are practical and real world, and very much a part of today’s hospitality industry,” continued Chef Ramsey. “I am looking forward to watching our local students prepare for their futures in modern kitchens for this field.”